Foreign Policy Blogs

Green Stimulus

In “Climate of Change”, I celebrated the first Obama budget proposal, along with the economic stimulus package and the renewables tax credit package from the autumn, as just what the doctor ordered for the push to decarbonize the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

Two of the world’s most eminent economists, Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern, had some thoughts on the subject recently as well.  Obama’s chance to lead the green recovery was the title of their op-ed in the “FT.”  These worthies point out:

“According to a recent paper by the Peterson Institute, spending $10bn (€7.9bn, £7.1bn) to insulate US homes and federal buildings could create and sustain up to 100,000 jobs between 2009 and 2011, while saving the economy from $1.4bn to $3.1bn a year between 2012 and 2020.

This type of investment and those in green technology and infrastructure would not only provide a short-term stimulus but also improve the US competitive position. As the world moves to a low-carbon economy, there will be a competitive advantage for those who embrace these technologies.”

The “FT” had an analysis as well of Which country has the greenest bail-out? This article contains some really superb graphics.  Which big country has the highest percentage of green stimulus in its plans?  South Korea – 81%.  The U.S. will spend $112 billion, but that’s only 12% of the total package.  Still, this amount alone is calculated to be able to produce 2.5 million green jobs.

Staying with the good old “FT” – it’s one-stop shopping today – here is a report by Fiona Harvey on why some environmental groups think that not enough emphasis is being placed on a green transition.  Some experts believe that “Much of the spending will go to projects that will, in fact, increase emissions, such as new roads or fossil fuel power stations, while too little money will be devoted to low-carbon projects to make a real difference…”  Are we doing enough?  Or is doing all that much more via the various national stimulus packages a tremendous boost to the green economy?  As Harvey puts it:  “So if even a small proportion of the proposed stimulus packages was spent on projects such as more renewable electricity generation, energy efficiency and developing low-carbon technologies, that would represent a huge increase to the companies involved in such plans.”

Bonus article:  See this excellent view into the “new zeitgeist” by Kenneth T. Walsh at “U.S. News & World Report.”

I have written here, over and over again, about the extraordinary drive for clean tech that is being evidenced all over the world.  Dare we hope that the economic downturn will accelerate this movement?  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s a pretty good video of Lord Stern talking to McKinsey.



Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change